Kapar MP should be referred to privileges committee over insensitive cancer, autism remark, says Yii

KUALA LUMPUR: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has written to Speaker Datuk Johari Abdul to refer Kapar MP Dr Halimah Ali to the Parliament’s committee of privileges for misleading the House.

Yii also said Dr Halimah’s remarks on Feb 14 that Menu Rahmah may cause exposure to cancer, autoimmune disease, autism and among others, was deemed to be in contempt of Parliament.

“The statement is untrue and irresponsible because it’s not only not based on facts and science, but also can cause misunderstanding and stigma against the autistic and disabled community in Malaysia.

“Her statement gives a wrong impression to the public, further causing immense stigma and belief that autism is caused by poor care and determined by your level of income,” said Yii.

Yii said that autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, was a neuro-developmental disorder that affected an individual’s social interaction, communication and behaviour.

“Autism is a complex and lifelong condition, and while the exact causes of autism are not yet fully understood, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that poor diet or bad food causes autism.

“As an MP in authority and a member of the medical fraternity, she has to be mindful and responsible with her words and not allow it to feed into unproven conspiracies or pseudo-science arguments that are not evidence-based or proven by science,” said Yii.

Yii also said Dr Halimah had been given many opportunities to apologise and withdraw her statement.

Yii said that despite public criticisms, Dr Halimah still continued to mislead the public and Parliament.

“She continues to deny it in several public statements including a statement in the House where she tried to mislead the House again by denying that such a statement was ever uttered and asking the House to refer to Hansard to prove that the statement was never spoken,” said Yii.

Yii said the Parliament Hansard on Feb 14 and a video recording of her speech during then had shown that Dr Halimah uttered those remarks.

“Evidence of such was also furnished to the Speaker for further action,” added Yii.

Yii said Dr Halimah not only has to retract and clarify her statement but make a sincere apology to the different communities affected by her remarks.

“Therefore, to ensure that each parliamentary is held to the highest standard of accountability in our speech and deed, I urge the Speaker to approve the motion that was submitted in the House to refer Dr Halimah to the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges in accordance with Parliamentary Standing Order 36(12),” added Yii.

On Monday (Feb 20), Dr Halimah denied saying that the Menu Rahmah can cause cancer, saying that the matter can be checked on the Feb 14 Parliament Hansard.

According to the Hansard last Tuesday (Feb 14), Dr Halimah, during her speech touching on food and health security, said that the poor shouldn’t be given low-quality food.

“I have no issues with the phrase ‘rahmah’, but don’t give the B40 low-quality food supplies that may cause them to be exposed to cancer, autoimmune disease, autism, and among others,” said Dr Halimah.

Dr Halimah had since drawn flak over her remarks.

Dewan Negara Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi said Dr Halimah’s remarks that associated Menu Rahmah offerings with health risks such as autism could cause misunderstandings and were insulting to the disabled community in Malaysia.